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Rainbow Kitchen

Helping with the Sun’s Healthy Gift – Vitamin D

By Allison St. Claire
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Leading food sources for Vitamin D include lots of fish – cod liver oil leading the list. (Just proves once again your grandmother knew best.) If you can’t bear the gag factor you envision to downing cod liver oil, look to salmon, trout, white fish, mackerel, canned tuna in oil, herring, sardines and tilapia.

A recent study I saw in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (JCEM) was titled: “Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Higher Mortality in Female Nursing Home Residents.” I was intrigued, but knew a vitamin D deficiency applied to almost the entire senior population, not just those in nursing homes. Deficiency can lead to rickets, a weakened immune system, increased cancer risk, and poor hair growth.

And this vitamin is extraordinarily important for our aging bones! The popular press and pharmaceutical marketing stresses the need for calcium to build our bones. True, but not the total picture.

Sunshine remains the main source for our bodies to make this vitamin naturally and for free. Try to get at least 15 minutes to ½ hour of direct sun on as much sun screen-free skin as possible every day. Vitamin D supplements are also widely available – just be sure you look for Vitamin D3 (cholecarciferol) rather than the cheaper and less effective D2 (ergocalciferol).  Remember, Vitamin D is fat soluble so be sure to take it with or just after a meal that includes plenty of fats.    

Leading food sources for Vitamin D include lots of fish – cod liver oil leading the list. (Just proves once again your grandmother knew best.) If you can’t bear the gag factor you envision to downing cod liver oil, look to salmon, trout, white fish, mackerel, canned tuna in oil, herring, sardines and tilapia. There are others on the list such as halibut and swordfish, but they are pricy and/or have been over-fished and are not recommended for sustainability.

Next come mushrooms, fortified cereals, tofu, caviar, dairy products, pork and egg yolks.

A recent meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal showed that calcium supplementation actually increased the risk of heart attacks. This study and others have looked at individuals taking calcium supplements in isolation without other key nutrients that play a role in calcium homeostasis. These nutrients stimulate the activity of the osteoblastic protein osteocalcin, reports Dr David Jockers, a holistic doctor in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Osteocalcin only becomes active when adequate levels of vitamin K2 are present. Vitamin K2 and vitamin D3 also act to inhibit osteoclasts, which act to break down bone. Most individuals are both deficient in D3 and K2. This creates an environment of poor calcium metabolism that leads to weakened bones and calcium deposition in soft tissues.

The bones also need a good mix of essential minerals and fatty acids for healthy bone function. This includes plant-derived magnesium and silica as well as animal forms of saturated fat and the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA & DHA.

The best forms of silica come from cucumbers, celery, bell peppers, horsetail, nettles, oat straw and alfalfa. Magnesium comes from many different sources including nuts, seeds, legumes and green vegetables. The best source of magnesium is raw, organic cacao and high quality dark chocolate.

Another powerful form of essential minerals is found in pink salts including Himalayan Sea Salt. These salts provide ideal mineral ratios for optimal absorption and usage in the body. Sea vegetables such as kelp, dulse and other forms of seaweed and sea algae like chlorella are also fantastic sources of bone-building nutrients.

The best come from leafy green vegetables and fermented, raw milk products from 100-grass fed cows and goats. Pasteurized forms of milk and grain-fed animals provide inflammatory fatty-acids and other metabolites that promote calcium mineralization into arterioles.

Raw cheese and fermented drinks from 100% green-fed animals provide the perfect ratio of vitamin D3, K2, calcium, magnesium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and saturated fat. Raw cheese is perhaps the best bone building, cardio-protective food one could consume, Dr. Jockers concluded.

Here’s one recipe for salmon which is still affordable, easy to find and amenable to almost any type of preparation and seasonings – short of overcooking it to unsavory dryness. Dill and sour cream are excellent accompaniments. By all means, try to avoid Atlantic salmon. Most salmon sold in U.S. supermarkets and restaurants are farmed and labeled Atlantic salmon. Most are imported from Chile and Canada. (Wild Atlantic salmon is endangered in the U.S. and cannot be caught commercially.) Salmon farming is associated with numerous environmental concerns, including water pollution, chemical use, parasites and disease.


 

Here’s one simple recipe.

Baked salmon

12 ounces salmon fillets (about 2 fillets)

5 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 cup melted butter (or yogurt)

1/4 tsp garlic powder

Approx. 1 tablespoon dried dill weed (to taste)

Salt and pepper to taste.

 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place salmon in the baking dish. Mix the butter and lemon juice in a small bowl, and drizzle over the salmon. Season with dill, garlic powder, sea salt, and pepper.

Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until salmon is easily flaked with a fork. I may additionally garnish with toasted sesame seeds, sliced almonds or a dollop of sour cream or more yogurt.


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Allison St. Claire loves to dream about, study, grow, play with, prepare and ultimately enjoy eating great food.

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